At first I thought I had already written about this…because in 2017 I did write about a United 757-200 pilot who had a bit too much to drink in Glasgow, was given a breathalyzer test at the airport, found to be over the legal limit, pulled off duty, and eventually jailed for 10 months. But it has happened again.
United Airlines Pilot Lands 10 Month Jail Sentence In Scotland For Violating Blood Alcohol Limits
Not sure what is is about the whiskey in Glasgow, but this was not the same pilot…just a similar fact pattern that took place two years later. This pilot, 63-year-old Glendon Gulliver, was “not used” to hard liquor and reportedly stumbled out of a bar in Glasgow the night before he was set to transport 166 passengers and 11 crewmembers on UA162 from Glasgow (GLA) to Newark (EWR).
A concerned citizen tweeted Glasgow Airport:
Hi. A United Airlines pilot just walked out of a pub in Glasgow and fell over drunk about 21:00. Can he be breathalysed before the flight to New York on Saturday morning?
He was…and found to be 4x over the legal limit. That represented a violation of §93(1) of the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003 and subjected him to up to 15 months in jail. Gulliver confessed to police, pleaded guilty, and pleaded for mercy, arguing he was a Gulf War veteran, had a drinking problem, and had sought help for his addiction.
Despite a plea to avoid prison, his term was instead reduced to 10 months during sentencing this week
Between the August 3, 2019 incident and trial, Gulliver retired from United Airlines. It isn’t clear if his conviction will implicate his retirement payments.
Sheriff (like a judge) Gillian Craig noted:
I find it hard to envisage a more responsible role than that of a pilot in a commercial aircraft – these people placed their lives in your hands.
“People are right to expect the air crew are fit and able to perform their duties.
“They expect the pilots to be sober.
“There were 177 men, women and children.
“I dread to think what the consequences could’ve been.”
In reality, it is unlikely the passengers were in danger. Strict alcohol limits (20mg of alcohol for every 100ml of blood) in the UK virtually prohibit alcohol ahead of duty. But 4x the legal limit for pilots is simply the legal limit for UK drivers (80mg per 100mL).
Of course there is no room for error in the cockpit, the pilot was properly held accountable, and a wise pilot is probably one who does not drink before duty and one who respects local law on and off duty. Even so, we cannot conclude that any passengers were actually in danger.
It’s a sad story for Gulliver and a sad way to end what sounds like a very illustrious flying career in the U.S. Navy and then for United Airlines. Still, no one forced him into the pub nor forced him to consume whiskey while there. It seems to me he received exactly the type of punishment that was warranted.
> Read More: Drunk United Pilot Jailed for 10 Months
(H/T: View From The Wing)